Complexity Explorer Santa Fe Institute



1 What is Complexity Explorer?

Complexity Explorer is a web-based platform for courses and other educational resources related to complexity science. The website is sponsored by the Santa Fe Institute.

2 Who is this website intended for?

The website is for anyone who is interested in learning about, or teaching about, complexity science. The interdisciplinary educational materials and courses offered through this website will range from beginner to expert levels, and will provide curricula for instructors to use, ranging from high school through graduate school levels.



3 What resources are available through Complexity Explorer?

Complexity Explorer hosts the Santa Fe Institute’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) program, a collection of online courses and tutorials open to anyone. The site also hosts searchable databases of syllabi, glossary terms, and other resources related to complexity science topics.  The site also hosts a Virtual Laboratory consisting of open-source simulation programs illustrating complexity science ideas, theories, and tools, accompanied by curricula designed for both teachers and independent learners who want to take advantage of these simulations.

4 In what ways am I allowed to use these resources?

All the materials on this site are available for your use for any non-commercial purpose. All materials (videos, code, write-ups, etc.) are covered by the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License ( ). This states that you may copy, distribute, and transmit the work under the condition that you give attribution to, and your use is for non-commercial purposes.

5 Is there any cost?

All materials on this website are freely available to anyone. However, certain course sessions may only be accessible for a tuition fee.  Once the session is closed, the materials (videos and quizzes) will be free.



6 Do I need to register?

You will be able to access most of the materials without registering for an account. You will need to register for an account in order to enroll in online courses, to participate in forums on the site, and to receive email updates about the site and about online courses offered through the site. Registration is easy and free!



7 How is this project funded?

Funding for the development and maintenance of Complexity Explorer, as well as for the online courses, from 2013 until the end of 2017, has been provided by the John Templeton Foundation, through grants to the Santa Fe Institute.  Additional funding comes from user contributions and the Santa Fe Institute.  Future funding may also come from Complexity Challenge partner organizations and a proportion of ASU-SFI Master's Degree in Complexity program fees.  User contributions, through donations and tuition payments, will continue to be pivotal in ensuring the longevity of the program. 



8 Who is putting all these resources online?

The Santa Fe Institute is sponsoring the Complexity Explorer website. You can see who is responsible for managing and creating content for the site at

9 What is the Santa Fe Institute?

The Santa Fe Institute is a private, not-for-profit, independent research and education center, founded in 1984, devoted to the interdisciplinary study of complexity science.



10 How can I contribute to this project?

There are several ways to contribute:  by submitting content to be included on the site, by helping to subtitle our videos in your native language, by giving us your feedback, by making a donation to help support this project, and by leaving reviews on our course listings on Class Central.  For detailed information, go to our Get Involved page. 



11 How do I take a course on Complexity Explorer?

Watch the short instructional video "How to use Complexity Explorer" and read course FAQs.  If you still have questions, you can email and we will help you.

12 What is the difference between a course and a tutorial?

Complexity Explorer courses are designed to be similar to a semester-long course, offering the chance to delve into a subject deeply.  Courses are available in two ways: as a course session, or an archived course.  Each course is usually offered in one session per calendar year.  

During a session, the course instructor and sometimes a teaching assistant are on hand to answer questions through email or the course forum.  A course forum is available for students to interact with each other.  During a session, a student can complete graded tests and in some cases peer-reviewed assignments.  When a student completes all tests and assignments within the course session time with an average score of 70% or higher, they can earn a certificate.  

Archived courses are the video and quiz materials that make up a course session, and they are freely available.  No certificate is offered for completing an archived course, and there is no course forum or instructor help.  

Complexity Explorer tutorials are short “mini-courses” designed to introduce students to important techniques and to provide illustrations of their application in complex systems.  A given tutorial is not meant to offer complete coverage of its topic or substitute for an entire course on that topic.   

Tutorials differ from our courses in a several ways:

  • They are always available; there is no set time to complete them.
  • They have quizzes and homework, but no tests.  Tutorials do not offer a grade or a certificate. 
  • The discussion forums for tutorials are provided for student discussion but are not monitored by instructors or TAs.  If you find an error or encounter a technical problem, please email us at

13 How do I know which courses are free and which are paid?

Courses with a padlock on the icon are paid courses.  If there is no padlock visible on the icon then the course is free.  Paid courses require a minimum tuition payment to progress past the first unit.  Once the course session is complete, the course materials will be free to use under the Archived Courses section.  

14 How can I add my certificates to LinkedIn or share them on social media?

Certificates are available as a pdf download and also as a unique, public URL you can link to.  When you click on your certificates you will be taken to that public page.  Copy the URL and share it anywhere you like.   

If you want to post your certificates to LinkedIn, follow these instructions.  Navigate to your certificate. If the course session is closed, go to your account by clicking your name at the top right of the Complexity Explorer page.  Go to My Enrollments and then click on the Show N Enrollments in Past Courses text in grey.   From there you can click on your past certificates.  Copy the URL of the certificate, and then click on the Add Certificate to LinkedIn button.  Fill in the form by putting in the name of the course, the Santa Fe Institute, leave licence blank, add the month and year you completed the course, and then add the public URL.  

15 What are the Complexity Challenges and how do I join?

The Complexity Challenges are Complexity Explorer's capstone, research question experiences.  Typically, the Challenges represent some real-world problem or system that has been abstracted and accompanied by questions to investigate the problem or system.  A Challenge participant can solve these using any method they like.  Participants have one month to prepare their written and video solutions, after which they review each others' work, followed by an instrcutor review.  To find out more about the Challenges, visit the general Challenge page and the Challenge FAQ

16 Where can I find information about the ASU-SFI Master's Degree in Complexity?

Information and responses to frequently asked questions are located on the ASU-SFI Master's Page

17 How does the peer review system work?

You can find detailed information on how the peer review system works on each Course or the Challenge FAQs. 



 What if I still have questions?

Please send any questions about this site to